Tuesday burning

| April 21, 2009
Why so serious?

Why so serious? It's only money.

[For those coming in from Ace of Spaces, here’s the link to the “Atlas Shrugged” review]


Item: I swapped e-mails this week with “S. Weasel” who runs one of my favorite blogs. She and her significant other (now husband) recently moved to England; she loves it there, but in her e-mail to me, she talked about her propensity to use the term “Orwellian” in describing her observations there, in spite of her efforts not to. However, reports such as this one explain her difficulty:

In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher’s first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: “It’s racist, you’re going to get done by the police!” Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: “An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form.”

Read the whole thing.

ITEM: Mark Steyn ties the current economic crisis to the looming problems of world demography, and the results are not encouraging:

So now consider it from a German banker’s point of view. To whom do you lend money? With age distribution on your turf heading north relentlessly, there’s not enough young people close to home. So you go further and further afield. Not crazy further, not Sudan or Rwanda. But far enough that you’re operating in markets where your traditional forms of risk analysis don’t apply, even if you were minded to apply them. To western bankers, Eastern Europe didn’t seem that different or dangerous, if you steered clear of the more psychotic oligarchs. Alas, the post-Soviet east is even further down the demographic death spiral than you are, and the Continental lenders’ exposure is such that the Eastern European downturn could bring about the collapse of the entire Western European banking system.

So, from the individual homeowner with no-one to sell his home to, and the business that’s run out of domestic market, and the bank frantically loaning to jurisdictions it barely comprehends, nudge it up one last stage – to the state. In recessions, government is enjoined to spend – to go into deficit, ramp up the national debt in order to “stimulate” the economy. Adding to the national debt presupposes that there’ll be someone to pay it off. But what if there isn’t?

ITEM: In the meantime, over in the Golden Fool’s Gold State, the state unions are pushing a ballot initiative to allow the state government to loot the lottery fund:

Prop 1C is called a lottery “modernization” measure that allows the cash-starved, and preternaturally corrupt state government to cull out up to $5 billion. It is supposed to be a loan. But, does anyone, anywhere think that the folks in Sacramento will ever pay back this “loan”? If anyone does, they are dumb as the day is long. No, what is far, far more likely is that if 1C passes, another $5 billion in revenue will disappear into the maw of the California State House never to be seen again… and worse, never to go for anything useful.

This simply underscores the common description of state-run lotteries: a “stupidity tax”.

ITEM: First it was Texas; now North Dakota is talking about the 10th Amendment and states’ rights.

ITEM: On the other hand, Massachusetts is now attempting to levy taxes from businesses in New Hampshire.

ITEM: And, yes, as per the link I posted yesterday, the New York Times really is in deep kimchee (hat tip to Hugh Hewitt; emphasis mine):

The New York Times Co. fell into a deeper financial hole during the first quarter as the newspaper publisher’s advertising revenue plunged 27 percent in an industrywide slump that is reshaping the print media. Its shares dived Tuesday.

The owner of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and 15 other daily newspapers said Tuesday that it lost $74.5 million, or 52 cents per share, in the opening three months of the year. That compared with a loss of $335,000 at the same time last year, which was break-even on a per-share basis.

The results in the most recent quarter included charges totaling 18 cents per share to cover the costs of jettisoning employees and other one-time accounting measures.

Even with those charges stripped out, the loss was much worse than analysts expected. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had predicted the New York-based company would lose 4 cents per share.



ITEM: Gibbs fiddles while Rome burns:

Link: AP, Tapper Confront Obama Admin Over $100 Million

ITEM: And AP burns Obama on his administration’s weak effort to appear thrifty:

The thrifty measures Obama ordered for federal agencies are the equivalent of asking a family that spends $60,000 in a year to save $6.

Obama made his push for frugality the subject of his first Cabinet meeting, ensuring it would command the capital’s attention. It also set off outbursts of mental math and scribbled calculations as political friend and foe tried to figure out its impact.

The bottom line: Not much.

By the way, there is an aspect of Obama’s “$100 million” savings that makes it much worse: as far as I can tell, the goal is not to save $100 million this year much less every year, but simply one time over the next several years (emphasis mine):

Some of [the budget cuts] will take many years to play out.

The Agriculture Department, for one, will move 1,500 employees from seven leased locations into one place in early 2011, saving $62 million over 15 years.

So Obama is not talking about saving $100 million per year; he’s talking about saving just $100 million over more than a decade, the same period where he will run up nearly $10 trillion in deficits (or 100,000 times the hoped-for savings).

ITEM: Even Paul Krugman, fiery liberal economist at the New York Times, thinks the $100 million in savings is bogus (hat tip to Derek Thompson).

ITEM: Speaking of heat and hot air, the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) scare continues to lose ground to scientists willing to point out the obvious about the Emperor’s New Clothes (hat tip to Jerry Pournelle):

ITEM: Meanwhile, the Onion presents the US Treasury’s newest effort to solve the massive deficit problem:

Treasury Department Issues Emergency Recall Of All US Dollars

ITEM: Nope, no corruption to see here, just move along:

On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.

Mrs. Feinstein’s intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn’t a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments – not direct federal dollars.

ITEM: More on the troubles of Russia — this time, the demographic collapse:

Since 1992, Russia’s human numbers have been progressively dwindling. This slow motion process now taking place in the country carries with it grim and potentially disastrous implications that threaten to recast the contours of life and society in Russia, to diminish the prospects for Russian economic development, and to affect Russia’s potential influence on the world stage in the years ahead.

ITEM: Speaking of troubles, David Paul Kuhn points out Obama’s troubles in his “idealistic” approach to world relations:

Candidate Barack Obama was dogged by charges of naiveté. President Obama has done little to disprove the accusation. He has been championed as a realist. But he has acted the ungrounded idealist.

Read the whole thing.

ITEM: Remember that Obama would only “tax the rich”? Well, apparently anyone who buys over the internet will now be classified as rich. Yep, it appears that Obama and Congress can no longer keep their hands off the ‘net.

That’s probably it for the day.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Climate Change, Environment, Journalism, Links roundup, Main, Media, Obama Administration, Science, Sea of deficits, Stimulus, US Politics, Video

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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